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Weston Wagons West - Ep. W2 - Randall Weston lived and worked near Preston and Conant descendants in the Eighteenth Cent

Updated on August 11, 2014
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Horse and Carriage

Image of a horse-drawn carriage like the Weston family may have built.
Image of a horse-drawn carriage like the Weston family may have built. | Source

Nathaniel Weston added wagon building to his Beverly business interests

As Randall Weston grew up in the first couple of decades in the Eighteenth Century, in Beverly, Massachusetts, his father, Nathaniel, got into the wagon building business, another family tradition that his line had not yet pursued. Randall grew up around horses and also enjoyed watching and helping his father with his wagons. On his 12th birthday, in March of 1717, Randall entered his formal apprenticeship in farrier and blacksmithing skills, but it was soon evident, while he enjoyed learning these skills, that the wagon building business was where his real feelings were directed. He especially liked creating the rims for the wooden wheels.

Randall's best friend was William Preston, who lived on the neighboring farm. They each enjoyed riding horses, and helping Nathaniel test some of his new carriage and wagon concepts before he offered them for sale to his customers. Sometimes, they drove the horse and carriage across the road and took Mary Raymond for a ride. This seemed to usually be William's idea. As time went by, he found more and more reasons to spend time with her.

Meanwhile, Randall became infatuated with a second cousin of his mother, Elizabeth Allen, who had recently moved to Beverly from across the Bay in Salem. Before long, it appeared likely that the two couples would achieve more than just social event relationships. William Preston and Mary Raymond (great-granddaughter of Roger Conant) were married on the second day of May in 1728, when he was 23. Randall Weston and Elizabeth Allen were married six weeks later.

Beverly Harbor

A view of Beverly, Massachusetts, Harbor
A view of Beverly, Massachusetts, Harbor | Source

William Preston and Randall Weston grew their families and businesses in Beverly

William and Mary named their first son William, after his father and grandfather. He joined the family in August of 1728. Five more children, three daughters and two more sons, filled out the family over the following twelve years. Randall and Elizabeth Weston named their first son, born in August of 1729, Alexander. He was followed by four sisters over the next decade.

Young William Preston and young Alexander Weston grew up just as close as their fathers had. They also grew a love for the carriages and wagons made by Nathaniel and Randall's Weston Wagon Works business. As they entered their teens, Alexander entered his farrier and blacksmithing apprenticeship and William worked with his father on his farm.

In 1748 William and Mary Preston decided it was time to move their family further north, into New Hampshire. They chose Chester in what later became Rockingham County as their new home. Chester had been founded in 1722. This was where they hoped there would be new opportunities for them. Young William was 20 years old in the year that they moved, middle son, Edward, was 15, and their youngest son, Benjamin, was 8 years old.

Blacksmith Shop in Chester, New Hampshire

A Blacksmith Shop along Chester Street, in Chester, New Hampshire.
A Blacksmith Shop along Chester Street, in Chester, New Hampshire. | Source

Alexander Weston made the move to Chester, New Hampshire, as well.

Alexander Weston had made the trip to Chester with the Preston family in 1748 helping them with their horse herd. He also visited for a month in the summer of 1749. Following that trip, he made the decision that he wanted to make the move to Chester, himself, to seek his new life there, following his 21st birthday. So, in August of 1750, Alexander packed up his farrier and blacksmithing tools in a Weston Wagon and made the move to Chester, New Hampshire.

The Preston family welcomed Alexander upon his arrival. They also provided many introductions to other horsemen in the area. Before long, Alexander had a growing blacksmith and farrier business under way. Among the early people Alexander met was Ellinore Goodhue, a grandchild of one of the founders of Chester. She was better known as "Elli." The following year, in June of 1751, Alexander and Elli were married in the home of William and Mary Preston.

Meanwhile, young William Preston had met Hannah Healy, the daughter of William Healey, a well-respected Chester merchant. William and Hannah were married in June of 1752 in the home of her parents, William and Mary (Sanborn) Healey in Chester. The Sanborn family was also prominent in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

From Chester, Massachusetts, to Rumney, New Hampshire in 1761

William and Hannah Preston first had a daughter, Molly, born in Nov 1752, then their first son, William, born in July of 1755. He was followed by two sisters, Hannah in Mar 1756, and Mary in Feb 1758, before a brother, Benjamin, born in Jan 1761. With the five young ones in tow, William and Hannah, in early 1761 sold their Chester property to Moses Underhill. They loaded their Weston Wagon and moved several miles to the northwest to be near the new village of Rumney, not far from the border of Vermont. Alexander and Elli Weston, who were childless to this point, agreed that a change of scenery might be advantageous for them as well. They also packed their Weston Wagon and traveled with the Preston family to the Rumney area. Hannah, especially, appreciated having Elli along the way to help with the children and other household-type duties on the trip.

William Preston and Alexander Weston were drawn to the Rumney area by reports of excellent soil fertility for farming close by the nearby forests of the White Mountains. They were among the early settlers of the area and each enjoyed growing alongside the other early arrivals. They each settled on the outskirts of what became the Rumney village, after some political squabbling. The area around Rumney, bordering on Vermont to the west, in 1769 became Grafton County - one of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire at that time.

Alexander Weston's farrier service and blacksmith shop grew along with the arrival of each new set of settlers. He was pleased when the younger William Preston, age 12 in 1767 asked his father if he could spend a few days a week learning the farrier trade with Alexander. As Alexander had no son of his own, he was pleased to work out a favorable arrangement with the Preston's to begin training young William in his trade. The young man was a quick learner and became a fine addition to Alexander's shop.

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Historical note by the author

As with prior Weston Wagon West episodes, all members of the Weston family, their spouses and children, are fictional. All other characters and places are based on actual historical figures and places, used fictionally while retaining their historical detail as closely as feasible based on known historical records. For example, William Preston, born in 1728, was a 4th great-grandfather of the author, and William Preston, born in 1755, was a 3rd great-grandfather.

Continuing the stories...

To continue to the story of the Weston and Preston families, go to W3, direct link below.

To follow a younger Weston brother, in a different direction, to New Jersey and then to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for a different view of the Revolutionary War, go to W4, forthcoming.


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